The 'Goodfellas' actor will take over the lead role as a downtrodden New York lawyer, who is a bit too ambitious in taking on the case of a Pakistani being accused of murder.
HBO is moving forward with "Criminal Justice". After months of mulling over the future of the miniseries following the death of James Gandolfini, who was attached to star on it, the cable channel has now tapped Robert De Niro to replace the late actor in the lead role.
The Academy Award-winning actor will play down-on-his-luck New York lawyer Jack Stone who frequently visits police precincts to look for clients. There, he meets a Pakistani named Naz, who is accused of murdering a girl on the Upper West Side, and agrees to take on the case. The Pakistani will be portrayed by Rizwan Ahmed.
Loosely based on the 2008 BBC series of the same title created by Peter Moffat, "Criminal Justice" was initially pitched as a series but HBO decided to pass on it. The premium cable network later gave it a go as miniseries and ordered the pilot, which had been filmed before Gandolfini's untimely death.
Though the lawyer is the central character on "Criminal Justice", in the pilot he reportedly only appears in the final scene. Steve Zaillian, who has been developing the show for four years, once stated that the pilot starring the "Sopranos" actor would never broadcast. Thus, it's likely that they will reshoot the pilot with Zaillian set to direct the first hour of the seven-part drama, which eyes a March start date.
Zaillian, Moffatt and screenwriter Richard Price will executive produce the miniseries, with Gandolfini to be credited posthumously as executive producer. Bill Camp, Payman Maadi and Poorna Jagannathan have also been cast on the show.
De Niro is allegedly the only name that came up to the network and Zaillian's mind as a possible replacement for Gandolfini. The Pat Solitano, Sr. of "Silver Linings Playbook" will reunite with "Silver Linings" director David O. Russell and co-stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in "American Hustle".